Prisoners go on hunger strike

Dozens of inmates of the main prison in Ioannina, northwestern Greece, yesterday went on hunger strike to protest severe overcrowding, saying they would not eat until «inhuman conditions» have been improved. A petition signed by 120 of the jail’s inmates, sent to the Justice Ministry yesterday, called for immediate intervention by authorities. «We are suffocating… we are squeezed together for hours on end,» the petition read. «We are asking for immediate decongestion of the institution to put an end to this unacceptable situation that is degrading to human dignity,» the prisoners added. One of the inmates at the Ioannina jail, which holds 240 prisoners rather than the 80 it was designed to accommodate, said that many are forced to sleep on trolleys in corridors due to the lack of space. The protest comes nearly a year after a series of riots were staged at several jails across the country, including the one in Ioannina and Attica’s main jail at Korydallos. These two jails, along with prisons in Larissa and Komotini as well as Alikarnassos jail on Crete are all badly overcrowded. Korydallos holds 1,966 inmates, triple its 640-prisoner capacity. Komotini jail also holds triple the inmates it was designed to detain, 307 instead of 105. And Larissa jail is holding 830 inmates instead of the recommended 450. In these jails, cells designed for two inmates are reportedly holding six or even seven people. This means that each inmate has just 0.7 square meters of space – one 10th of the 7 square meters recommended by the European Union.